Sumaya Gabriels named new Head of Division: Disability Studies

07 Mar 2024
Sumaya Gabriels
07 Mar 2024

Dear Staff and Student Colleagues 

I am pleased to share that Sumaya Gabriels has been appointed as the new Head of Division of Disability Studies in the Department of Health and Rehabilitation, effective 1 February 2024, for a three-year term. Ms Gabriels succeeds Professor Theresa Lorenzo. I am extremely grateful to Professor Lorenzo for her service and contributions to UCT.  

Ms Gabriels is a qualified physiotherapist and worked for several years in public service in Manenberg, Cape Town. While being involved in clinical training, she realised that her passion lay in education. In 2011 she started working in the Department of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences in the capacity of clinical educator and taught in the academic development programme in the Division of Physiotherapy.

Subsequently, she transferred to work in the Division of Disability Studies where she was part of the team that designed the curriculum for a new qualification: the Higher Certificate in Disability Practice. Since 2012, this programme has trained rehabilitation care workers to fulfil a much-needed service, which is working at community level and supporting persons with disabilities and their families. Ms Gabriels then completed her Master’s in Higher Education Studies and is enrolled for a PhD in Education in the School of Education at UCT.  

Ms Gabriels has served on various departmental committees, including the Departmental Research Committee and the Decolonising the Curriculum Working Group. She is also currently the Chair of the Departmental Undergraduate Education Committee. Recently, she earned the Sustainable Academic Capacity Building for Excellence through Research and Training Scholarship. This scholarship is a collaborative capacity-building programme initiated by the University of California, Los Angeles, and a few South African universities.   

Beyond UCT, Ms Gabriels is a keen advocate for social justice and works in civil society organisations that focus on equity in schools and healthcare. She is committed to serving, advocating for, and promoting the inclusion of persons with disabilities, and working together with the team of local and international collaborative partners to address issues of social justice.  

My best wishes go out to you, Ms Gabriels, and I have no doubt that you are eager to share your passion for social justice in this new role. Please join me in congratulating Ms Gabriels on this career milestone.  

Kaise ke gangans
Associate Professor Lionel Green-Thompson
Dean: Faculty of Health Sciences